Attorney General Likando Kalaluka has asked the Constitutional court to dismiss with costs the petition filed by the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) that Parliament must not hold proceedings on the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 10.
In this matter, LAZ petitioned the Presidency, the Attorney General and the National Assembly over the Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 10 which passed first reading in Parliament, saying that was in contravention of the current Constitution.
But Kalaluka has argued that the initiation of the bill by the President and its tabling for first reading by the Speaker of the National Assembly do not amount to the amendment of the Constitution.
He stated that the petitioner cannot argue that the signing of the Bill by the Attorney General, as required by Article 177, is an amendment of the constitution.
“Therefore, the petitioner cannot allege that by virtue of a decision by the respondents to do what is required of them by the constitution which may lead to the amendment of the constitution, the constitution has been abrogated. This is because the actions of the respondents do not amount to an amendment in itself,” Kalaluka stated.
LAZ petitioned in the Constitutional Court to challenge the decisions of President Edgar Lungu, the Attorney General and the National Assembly in relation to the Constitution of Zambia (amendment) Bill no. 10 of 2019, pursuant to article 128 (3) (b) of the constitution of Zambia, chapter 1 of the laws of Zambia.
In the said petition, LAZ challenged the decision of the President with regard to his function of initiating bills for submission to, and consideration by the Speaker of the National Assembly as provided in Article 92 and the decision of the Attorney General as Chief Legal Advisor to the government to sign the bill presented to the National Assembly as provided in Article 177 (5) (b) of the constitution.
LAZ further petitioned the decision of the Speaker of the National Assembly to publish the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill, No. 10 of 2019 in the government Gazette pursuant to Article 79 (2) of the Constitution, and to table the bill for first reading on 2nd August, 2019.
The lawyers’ body is therefore seeking a declaration that the respondents’ decision in relation to the Bill is illegal and contravenes Articles 89, 61, 79, 90, 92, and 79 of the Constitution.
But Kalaluka stated that LAZ makes reference to what is now being called ‘Decisions’ which are in fact steps which ought to be taken in proposing amendments to the Constitution and “it is those steps that the Petitioner has presented to the Court as contraventions without pleading expressly how these acts amount to contraventions of the Constitution”.
“We humbly submit that what the President of the Republic of Zambia, the Attorney General and the National Assembly did is in line with the Constitution. Further, the said public offices are mandated by the Constitution to do so. Therefore, the allegation by the Petitioner that by doing the said acts, the Constitution has been contravened is in fact alleging that the Constitution has contravened itself,” stated Kalaluka. “It is also our humble contention that it is not possible for such a situation to exist and this is because the actions, measures or decisions taken herein are all mandatory and Constitutional obligations that were done in accordance with the Constitution itself. Further, the same cannot be used to be a basis for this Petition and be a justification to invoke the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 128 (3) (b) or any other clause therein. In fact, we would go further to argue that seeing that the Constitution cannot contravene itself, there is no decision before this Court to warrant the invocation of the Court’ s jurisdiction to entertain this matter.”